The Women’s Marches and the politics of care: The best response to Trump’s inaugural address
Persistence is the best resistance.
By George Lakoff
Jan 24 2017
The Women’s Marches across America and the world were peaceful, family-oriented, and cooperative. They required energy and effort, along with the devotion to travel, gather, and march.
The marches had a single, overwhelmingly positive focus: care. Care is the hallmark of what women give to their families day after day. Not that men don’t, but it cares that we rightfully associate with taking care of a family. The women who marched understood instinctively that America is their family and that the world is their community.
America was founded on the idea that citizens care about their fellow citizens, that they contribute through their government to provide resources for the benefit and fulfillment of all. Democracy is more than voting. Democracy and citizenship require us to care about each other.
Kamala Harris said it well: the issues were not about one constituency, because women’s rights are human rights. And women’s issues are all issues – from economy to ecology and from equality to fulfillment. Diversity is strength, and international cooperation is national security. Every issue voiced in the march was ultimately about care.
The intensity of the marches was stoked by the inaugural address on Friday of
the least-popular President in U.S. history, the loser of the popular vote by nearly three million votes. After taking the Oath of Office, he proceeded to give an inaugural speech that showed that he intended to turn America into a version of himself:
• Trump first is to become America first.
• Trump’s interests are to become America’s interests.
• Trump’s lack of empathy, his lack of care about others, is to become America’s lack of empathy, America’s lack of care about others.
• Trump’s view of worth as money is to become America’s view of worth as money.
It is the antithesis of care – and the antithesis of the most fundamental American values.
The speech was carefully crafted to deceive, which is a nice way of saying that it was framed to sound like the opposite of his intentions, to make lies sound nice.
It was also an excellent example of extreme conservative framing. The author of the speech, Stephen K. Bannon, is an expert propagandist. Every word and idea contained in the speech was chosen for a specific reason.
The speech was centered on a single Big Lie: that Trump is a populist, a “messenger” of the popular will.
Trump’s speechwriters laced the speech with populist rhetoric. They tried to position Trump as a man of the people who would lead the charge against wealthy elites who have amassed too much power. The speechwriters attacked the “establishment” and promised to remember the “forgotten” people. These parts of the speech sounded more like Bernie Sanders or Robert Reich than Donald Trump. It sounds nice until you remember who Trump really is: a businessman infamous for making money on bankruptcies, for ripping off small business people and refusing to pay workers on his projects. Trump is a billionaire who wants to lower wages for working Americans.